AGR to be exempted soon for fixed line service providers: Raja

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (UNI) Communications and Information Technology Minister A Raja today said adjusted gross revenue (AGR) will be exempted in a couple of months to encourage telecom players for providing fixed line services in the rural areas.

''We have directed the telecom commission (the policy wing of the Department of Telecom)...the AGR will be exempted within a couple of months,'' Mr Raja told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on 3G Mobile Broadband for All.

Earlier in the day, Bharti Airtel Ltd Managing Director Sunil Mittal has urged the government to encourage telecom players so that the fixed connections could be increased.

Welcoming the Minister's announcement, Mr Mittal said, ''fixed line telephony must become recipient of funds and the operators should not be burdened with a host of levies like licence fee of contribution to the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund.'' The telecom firms which got UASL licences can provide fixed line telephony also, he said, adding that ''it requires high maintenance cost and so it needs encouragement from the government''.

In the country, about 90 per cent of the fixed line telephone connections are provided by the state-owned telecom firms such as BSNL and MTNL.

In China, there are 550 million mobile connections, while fixed line connections stand at 370 million.

Apprising that in the recent times, the number of fixed lines in the country has seen a considerable fall, the Minister said, ''The mobile connections in India are likely to exceed the fixed line connections by 2010.'' UNI SBA SG AS1529

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